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This story arc has been published as a novel!

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Life on the Dream Team

Nereid turned the corner on her way to the Young Cosmics rec room and nearly ran down Wire, who was making out with Brainchild.

She flung herself backward to avoid an actual collision, and part of her mind reminded her wryly, You have the shittiest reflexes.

"Oh, hey, Paci-- Nereid," Wire said, stepping back and looking around, shoving her long blue forelock aside with a hand. "Sorry about that."

"Uh-huh," Nereid said, at a loss for anything better. "Is... that, you know, allowed?"

Brainchild pulled her rather complicated glasses off and polished the main lenses on her shirt. "In what sense, exactly?"

Wire focused on Nereid more intently. "Yes, please clarify that question."

Nereid cleared her throat and tried to drag her eyes away from Brainchild's cleavage. "I... I just mean, you're the vice-commander of the team, Wire. Fraternization..." She waved her hand vaguely.

"Technically not fraternization," Brainchild noted, perching her glasses on the prominent bridge of her aquiline nose.

"Sophie," Wire said out of the corner of her mouth. Then to Nereid, "There's no rule in the bylaws against it. Besides, we were together long before I became vice-commander."

"Technically," Brainchild said, "we also stopped being together before you became vice-commander. And then started again. And stopped. And..." She fastened her jacket.

"Sooophieee," Wire said slowly and clearly through her gritted teeth. "Not helping."

"Sorry," Brainchild said unrepentantly.

"Uh," Nereid said. "Sorry." She pushed past Wire and hurried toward the rec room.

Behind her, Wire said in a lowered voice, "This is why we have to be more careful, Sophie. We just freaked the newbie."

"You mean the provisional member who's cost us a few hundred -- or is it in the thousands now? -- in fines and coffee?" Brainchild said, without lowering her voice.

Nereid opened the door and fled inside.

The television screen was blaring, but no one was watching it. A couple of other Young Cosmics -- Mercury and Jet -- were sitting around, talking. In one corner, one of the boys was working out on a weight machine. She couldn't see much of him among the weights and cables.

"Heeeey, Nereid," Mercury said. He was sprawled in his chair, wearing a cropped t-shirt and denim shorts. "How's it goin'?"

"Uh, ah, just fine," she said. His shorts were very tight. "How 'bout with you?"

"Doin' okay," he said. "I heard you had to take someone else for coffee."

"It's cool," Nereid said, dragging her eyes toward the window. The nice, safe window. "She was nice about it."

"Really nice?" Jet asked. He was wearing a full t-shirt and baggy sweatpants. He didn't flex all the time the way Mercury did. "We just got notice that the last person you said that about -- you know, the bus driver? -- is suing us."

She clapped both hands over her mouth. "Oh, shit!"

Mercury waved his hand lazily. "No sweat, kiddo. Mr. Moneybags is taking care of it. Just... you know, maybe you should stop tryin' to kill yourself? It always upsets other people."

"I'm not trying to kill myself," Nereid said.

"That's not how it looks to everyone watching," Jet said.

Nereid rolled her eyes. "Well, if I could think of another way to learn how to use this stupid power..."

"I have thought of a way!" said a voice from the corner.

The young man who had been working out stood up, smiling with the right half of his face. The other half of his face was covered with bandages. He had carefully sculpted cheekbones, a crisp jawline, and a bright blue eye. The rest of his body seemed like it had been carved out of a bodybuilding magazine, and he wore a tank top and shorts that showed it all off. The skin on the left half of his body was oddly pink and shiny compared to the skin on the right half.

"Oh, hey, Citizen Pain," Nereid said. "You have?"

"Yes, indeed!" he said, making his way to her carefully. His left leg dragged a bit, and he seemed somewhat off-balance. But his smile didn't fail. "If your power teleports you away from harm, perhaps you can catch yourself in a semi-perpetual loop by jumping off a high place. Your power might continue to teleport you higher."

"Wouldn't she reach terminal velocity if she did it long enough?" Jet said, frowning.

"Yes, indeed!" Citizen Pain said, the smile never failing. "It would indeed be an excellent way to use her power if we possessed a team member who harnessed kinetic energy!"

"Er, yeah, Pay," Mercury said. "But we don't."

"Then she would indeed require a spotter who could fly and extract her from the loop eventually," Citizen Pain said. "Regrettably, I am not fully functional at this time, or I would offer to help you, Nereid."

"Thank you, Pay," she said. She thought about the nice, safe window again, rather than thinking about being carried in his arms. "You're a sweetie."

"Am I? I am indeed pleased to hear it."

"How are you feeling, anyway?" she asked.

"I am feeling well, especially since Brainchild deactivated the relevant portions of my nociceptor network." He poked himself in the left arm. "No pain at all."

"Oh," Nereid said. "Well, that's good anyhow. A real advantage to being an android. Any idea when you'll be back in action?"

"Indeed, none of us know. My self-regenerating capability has never been so challenged before." Pay shrugged with his right shoulder. "Regrowing half my body has been difficult and resource-consuming."

"I bet," Nereid said, adding eagerly, "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help."

Mercury snorted a laugh into his hand. A blush roared up Nereid's face.

"You have my gratitude, Nereid," Pay said, thankfully oblivious. "I should get back to my room now. It is time for my nutrient bath. I will see you all later." He smiled again and departed.

Before Mercury could say anything, Nereid ran out the door to the pool.

Date: 2012-02-26 07:04 am (UTC)
sepdet: Samhain worshipping the veggies. Oooommm. (Okay, yes, catnip was involved.) (Default)
From: [personal profile] sepdet
About the only part of Wonder City I've had trouble with is the Young Cosmics. You portray a group of somewhat bratty Spandex Spawn very convincingly.

Poor Nereid. Although Pay is very cute in his not-quite-Dataness, coming up with lab experiments to try on Nereid. (With friends like these...)


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